GABRIEL JACKSON (b.1962): The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Catalogue Number: 04U059
Description: This is an approachable, tonal, setting of the Passion, with some unique distinguishing features. As has become common practice in modern sacred works, a variety of texts are interpolated among those of the Biblical account. As the work was commissioned by Merton College, University of Oxford, some of these are poems by old Mertonians, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer which is also used has connections to the college. Extracts from all four Gospels are employed, according to the dramatic emphases of the particular episodes described, and a variety of Latin hymns punctuate the narrative. The Passion is in seven movements, following the Liturgy of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, with a final movement that sets an extract from T.S.Eliot's "Little Gidding" from the "Four Quartets", offering a vision of renewal and redemption that encompasses the Resurrection as part of a more universal narrative. Jackson's choral and solo writing belongs to the English cathedral tradition, and his division of roles and narrative between soloists and choir to the tradition of sacred oratorio, though his choice of forces is sometimes unconventional. The orchestration is colorful and highly effective, from the spare, ascetic accompaniment of the Crucifixion scene, rendered more harrowing by its restraint, to the keening saxophone, somewhere between a shofar and a shawm, that introduces the work and accompanies the final words of the Crucifixion, to the sinister nocturnal sounds in Gethsemane before the betrayal, to the bird-call appropriated from the opening 'sunrise' of Mahler's 1st Symphony that prefaces the radiant Eliot setting. An engaging, accessible and moving contemporary account of the pivotal event of the Christian calendar. Texts included. Emma Tring (soprano), Guy Cutting (tenor), Choir of Merton College, Oxford, Oxford Contemporary Sinfonia; Benjamin Nicholas.